Detroit Mercy Dental receives grant from DHHS; new program implemented for pregnant women

We are excited to announce that we have been awarded a grant in the amount of $969,400 from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

The funds will be used to develop a new program to address maternal and infant oral health gaps in Michigan by connecting at-risk pregnant women to dental care during their pregnancy.

“Hormonal changes during pregnancy put women at increased risk for periodontal disease, cavities and a condition called ‘pregnancy gingivitis’ — tender gums that bleed easily,” said Mert Aksu, D.D.S., dean of University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry. He added, “Pregnant women with cavities can transmit cavity-causing bacteria to their infants.”

The program will operate in six pilot clinics across the state:

  1. Grace Health, Battle Creek
  2. Upper Great Lakes FQHC, Hancock
  3. Ingham County FQHC, Lansing
  4. InterCare Community Health Network, Benton Harbor
  5. Muskegon Family Care, Muskegon
  6. Great Lakes Bay Health, Bay City

At each of these sites, there will be a licensed dental hygienist to provide preventative dental care and oral health instructions, and refer patients to a local dentist for long-term care.

The project coordinator is John Girdwood, Ph.D.; regional coordinators include Christian Garcia (West/North) and Monica Jensen (East/Central).  All three individuals began working with staff at the pilot sites to implement the program when the grant period started and have begun calibrating clinicians on a research project being conducted by Joshua Thomson, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Division of Integrated Biomedical Sciences.

Benefits of this program include:

  • increasing access to dentists for pregnant women;
  • reducing adverse pregnancy outcomes related to poor oral health;
  • and decreasing dental disease in infants by delaying the maternal child transmission of bacteria.

Read more about the program at this link.